This post comes with respect and a warning. The following contains thoughts and experiences that may be considered triggers to those who have struggled with suicidal thoughts or actions. If you are concerned about such triggers, I would advise against reading. And as always, if you are having a difficult time and need help, please:
Or call 1-800-273-TALK.
Chester Bennington called his dark side his "dark passenger" (Rolling Stone, 8.4.2017): http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/inside-linkin-park-singer-chester-benningtons-last-days-w495942
Why am I writing another one of these?
I took the weekend to think this over. Because sometimes I just can't think.
I got into the car after work on Thursday and my alternative station was on. The first thing I heard was something to the effect of
I don't want to say it, but here we are again. Chester Bennington of Linkin Park was found dead in an apparent suicide. He was 41.
And I froze. How is it possible, just two months after the suicide of Chris Cornell, we are now mourning another of the community of another hanging? One who penned his own letter after Chris' passing? One whose own letter says the very things anyone could also say about Chester? Why?
One of my very favorite people, Vera,(an acupuncturist and Oriental Chinese Medicine practitioner),
calls it The Parasite.
And everyone has one. Everyone. Some know what it is, some don't. As I don't know, nor had I ever met him, I can only speculate about Chester Bennington's battle with his parasite after he suffered his own abuse. I can only simply empathize.
My parasite is the negative voice in my head. Telling me I'm worth nothing. An effect of neglect and abuse.
I've never been diagnosed with PTSD, for the record, I'll just say it seems like the most likely diagnosis. It makes me feel LONELY. SELF-CONSCIOUS. HYPER-SENSITIVE. DEPRESSED. ANXIOUS. ANGRY. SCARED. RESENTFUL. HOPELESS. BITTER. DEFENSIVE. PARANOID. OVERREACTIVE. UNLOVED. USELESS. INSECURE. "NEEDY." (I use the " " because I hate that word.) I've felt like this for as long as I can remember, but I think started with my mother's second divorce. I was 10. And now it just sort of ebbs and flows. Peaks and valleys. It's been a really long time since I've felt absolute joy.
"No one would care if I just dropped off the face of the planet."
I've said it many times before. As recently as a few days ago. That parasite can really eat at me sometimes. It never really goes away, Vera tells me. I may have these good long stretches where I feel great about myself, but one bad family event, one bad audition, and I can be right back in it. Right back to dropping off the planet.
And it did get bad enough to make me want to just get it over with.
Just end it all. December of 2000.
It was right before Christmas. I was living in Cedar City, Utah, but had dropped out of Southern Utah University that semester. All my friends had gone home, and my roommate was with his Mom for the Holidays. I was alone. It was cold and snowy so I had nowhere to go. I think I hadn't been outside other than for work in quite a bit. Well, maybe to the state liquor store. Alcohol makes everything better, right?
And The Parasite was raging. Feeding off the feelings that were amplified by alcohol. The Parasite loves liquored up feelings. LONELY, liquored up feelings. I don't remember when the last time it had been that I had seen a friendly, non-work related, caring human being. And this was pre-cellphone, so no texting, no facebook, any of it. The only reaching out was dial-up email or expensive, long-distance landline. And even with those things, the Parasite likes to make it all seem completely impossible and out of reach.
All I could think about was how I was a nobody. And nobody loves nobody. And there wasn't anyone there to tell me to stop drinking. And there wasn't anyone there to tell me I'll find someone better than the person who ended the relationship I still wasn't over a year and a half later. And my family wasn't calling to tell me how amazing I was, or that I was loved or missed. Or friends. And just negative thought after negative thought in a parasitic cyclone. I couldn't stop it. The Parasite was raging of its own will. Telling me I was unloved and would never be loved.
There's a certain point when The Parasite stops listing all the bad things, and thoughts turn to just how to make it quiet. All the ways you can make it quiet. Find what tools you have to make it quiet.
I went through all of them. ALL. OF. THEM. What I remember now was that I was going to walk out into the snow and wait it out. At least that's what I remember today. From about 1AM on, drunk, I thought about all the ways I could end my life. And that it was going to be that night. Merry Christmas.
For the three years I lived in Utah, finances made it difficult to get back to Wisconsin. But that year, in a few days, I was heading home to visit my brother. And in this downward spiral I thought about my family and how us kids had basically been left to raise and fend for ourselves. Recently I even said to my brother that if we had been wild animals in nature, and left by our parents to do the same, we'd probably be dead by now.
So by 3AM I had pretty well drank, cried, and beat myself to exhaustion. At any moment, The Parasite could take me by the hand, walk out the door into the cold and snow, and just let everything go.
Or I could make a phone call.
I don't know why I thought about it. Just make one phone call. Just do it. Make one phone call. If no one answers, you have your answer. If no one answers, you can just walk out the back door.
So against The Parasite's wishes (NO ONE IS GOING TO ANSWER! NO ONE CARES!) I picked up the phone and dialed my brother's number in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. By this point it was after 4AM there if I remember correctly. I think it rang four times when a female voice said hello.
"Is Jacob there?" I asked.
"Yeah," my brother's girlfriend said half-asleep. And then muffled, "Jake, I think it's your sister."
"Hello?," my brother said.
I don't think I said anything to start, I just started to quietly cry. And I may have apologized for calling so late, or something, and I don't remember much of the conversation anymore, but the two things I do remember are 1) I said something about wanting to die, and 2) My brother talked me off a ledge in the early morning hours in December of 2000. He said enough to make me get off the phone and go to sleep ("Just come home and we'll talk," I remember), and enough to make the trip back to Wisconsin a few days later.
That voice that tells me I'm a nobody also questions why someone with money, power, talent, and fame takes their own life. Because sometimes my Parasite likes to tell me if I had all those things, I would never think about killing myself again. But it's not true. Chester showed us it's not. So did Chris. And so many others. That time in 2000 wasn't the only time I thought about suicide, it's just the one where it went far enough to make that phone call.
And I can assure you right now I'm in a better place than I've ever been in my life. I have a supportive husband who I can talk openly with about my darkest feelings and he'll listen patiently and offer words of wisdom as best he can. My daughter makes me laugh more than anyone else. I have friends now that if I were really deep in it, I feel like I could call and they would listen without judgment. I have had some wonderful artistically fulfilling experiences and am learning more than ever what kind of artist I am and the art I want to be a part of. And I've started to make my health a priority and not take self-care for granted. Because I can't be the best Wife, Mom, Friend, Sister, or Artist without it. And I'm so thankful to have all of this.
My heart bleeds for Chester Bennington's family and those close to him. Having been in it, I wish I had some answers. But nobody knows what any person is actually going through on the inside when it's that dark. I just wish he had picked up the phone and called someone. No matter how he felt in that moment when he was going to walk out into the cold and snow, I just wish he would have picked up the phone to talk to someone. Hear a caring voice. Not feel alone. Not listen to the voice in his head telling him no one cares. Or whatever it was saying.
And you reading this, if you're struggling: MAKE A CALL. Even if it's to talk to a stranger at the number above. They're there because they care. You may feel there's no one, but maybe it's because you're the someone someone else needs to talk to. Maybe you need to make that call if only to tell someone else to make that call. You are here for a reason. And there IS love around you.
So while I've felt the depths of pain, cried so hard and wanted to die, I'm still here. I'm still here. And I know there'll be more challenges, and times will be hard (that's life after all), I hope I've finally started to learn how to navigate those times. That I maybe able to see the darkness, but not step into it. Make The Parasite as quiet as it can be.
I hope it's never that dark for me again.
Full statement from Linkin Park: